Blair Mountain Removed from National Historic Registry
Thanks to the efforts of the mountaintop removal industry and the politicians who do their bidding, the site of the nation’s largest worker rebellion will be delisted from the National Historic Registry.
Leading the way in the effort to delist was the WV Division of Culture and History. One would think such a department would like to promote and develop the site of WV’s most significant historical event.
The primary reason for the delisting is that the coal industry wants to finish demolishing Blair Mountain, and it will be harder for the WV Department of Environmental Protection to justify granting strip-mining permits for a cite listed on the National Register.
But another important consideration is the threat that a listed Blair Mountain might bring tourists. And this is a part of the state that needs to be kept hidden. Mountaintop removal mining has not only destroyed half of Blair Mountain (which is more than a tad embarassing), it has depopulated the surrounding towns. It is hard to argue the merits of mtr against the backdrop of so much poverty and environmental degredation.
In 1998, the few remaining residents of Blair petitioned the EPA to stop the destruction. Surprisingly, the EPA came to investigate and even held a public hearing. But the coal goons were out in full force, and the cries from Blair were drowned out. The destruction continued and the detractors were forced to sell their property to the company because its market value had plummetted to zero. They could no longer take the threats of violence. Or the silica dust, cracked wells, and blasts that kept them on edge.
The removal of Blair Mountain from the list and from the earth is symbolic as much as it is “economic.” History of resistance to the evils of King Coal should be razed with everything else.